By DAVE PEROS
The rhythm of the fishing scene hereabouts is pretty much holding true to past years, and I have heard less grousing from people about the size of the stripers they are catching because in many cases they are really enjoying and appreciating the opportunity to fish when so many other activities they like are taboo for the moment.
According to Jim Young at Eastman’s Sport & Tackle on Main Street in Falmouth, the fluke bite is improving in the sounds and sea bass are still a prime target for ground fishermen. Kyle Rigazio has been doing well around the north shore of the Vineyard and the deeper water out toward Lucas Shoal. Middle Ground and L’Hommedieu are holding mostly sublegal fish, but with some patience and a willingness to experiment with rigs and baits, it’s possible to put together a decent catch that will put some tasty fillets on the table.
Over at The Powderhorn in Hyannis, the word from Andy Little is that while you’re not going to be hauling up doormats as folks have been doing when fishing the waters south and east of Nantucket, the M3 Spoon continues to produce good action. These spoons are often fished as part of a three-way rig, with the spoon attached to one length of leader material that hangs from a swivel of some sort so that it is perpendicular to the main line, with a Gulp! Grub or Swimming Mullet added for extra flutter, while a sinker of sufficient weight to deal with the current and depth is attached to a shorter section of leader from the bottom eye of the swivel. Snaps can be added to the ends of the leader so that spoons and sinkers can be changed if conditions require.
When it comes to what color Gulp! is best, Andy emphasized that it can change from day to day; one trip it can be Nuclear Chicken, then Glow, and Salmon Red has proven to be a go-to for some serious summer flattie anglers.
Tommy over at Maco’s in Buzzards Bay reported that they got in another 400 pounds of local squid, which is generally superior to the boxed or bagged stuff because it contains all the juices and ink that produce a tasty slick. Unfortunately, there are few if any folks around who dig sand eels because, when added to a fluke sandwich, which can also feature a mummichog or killifish, you are setting a table that few if any flatties can resist, including the 8-pounder that someone weighed in the other day.
A.J. Coots at Red Top in Buzzards Bay advised that the sea bass bite up in Buzzards Bay has slowed a bit, with the push of bigger knotheads having finished spawning and are now headed for deeper water. Scup action is still very good, however.
When it comes to bass in the bay, there are still schools of pogies around and the harder-working boaters are picking at some nice bass between the west entrance to the canal over to Westport. Livelining is hard to beat. In the past, many folks used to snag-and-drop, leaving the pogy on the weighted treble after it was dragged through a school and had impaled one of these super baitfish. There had been some discussion initially of still allowing this, but a snagged bait must be transferred to a circle hook, the type of hook required now when using live or dead bait for stripers.
As Bruce Miller at Canal Bait and Tackle in Sagamore said, if you are in possession of a striper and are fishing bait without a circle hook, you are in big trouble.
The only exception is when the bait is attached to an artificial lure such as the tube-and-worm.
According to Bruce, the boaters fishing Cape Cod Bay had a good day on Monday as they located schools of larger bass from the Double Humps to the Fingers, as well as between Billingsgate and Provincetown. Bunker spoons and big, deep-diving swimming plugs such as Rapala Magnums work well, and Mojo rigs are also catching on with Cape Cod Bay anglers.
Bruce believes that some of the bigger fish in the canal moved out into the bay after the last good set of tides in the Big Ditch and are following the schools of pogies and mackerel. Up around Provincetown, Captain Mike Hogan of Hogy Lures enjoyed a bass blitz recently in which sea herring were being chowed in a big way. While some folks chased the schools of surface feeding stripers, Mike stayed put and proved the efficacy of his Charter Grade Slider by blindcasting and letting his plug sink before starting a steady retrieve that produced plenty of hookups.
Barnstable Harbor is a schoolie delight for light tackle and flyrodders, noted Andy Little, with 40-fish mornings or evenings a regular occurrence and topwater offerings especially fun and effective. The Sandwich creeks are also spots where the school(ie) is in session.
I had expected the crowds that formed during the breaking tides last week to have thinned a bit, but Rory Edwards from Falmouth Bait & Tackle in Teaticket told me that once the word got out that there was an evening/night bite around the west end, it became a zoo. In fact, it was so bad that Rory elected not to fish and just watch the circus; he didn’t get any video, but he got plenty of audio, with folks hooting and hollering big time.
Jigs have been the way to go this week as the fish are hunkering down. During the previous big bite, everything from swimmers to jigs to surface plugs were working. Starting on Sunday, there is another set of early morning, east-turning currents, and no doubt room, both for fishing and parking, will be at a premium.
Along with artificial offerings, a number of Ditch Diggers are fishing chunk mackerel or pogies. A.J. Coots said they sell far more of the former than the latter, and bait has been a top choice of the crew working the waters from not quite the mid-canal toward the west.
Southside, the shoals have definitely slowed, with the usual haunts producing schoolies on plugs and plastics, with a decent pick of bluefish around Hedge Fence over to Horseshoe.
Jim Young recommended bouncing bucktails or paddletails around the west end of Middle Ground where a few bigger stripers have been caught, while Matt Rissell has been livelining scup around the Woods Hole area and picking up decent numbers of bass up to the 30-pound class.
The crappy weather earlier this week had fish in a foul mood down the Elizabeths, making wire line and parachutes a better option than eels, although the regulars have been working hard at locating spots where the resident fish are willing to be charmed by snakes.
Perhaps the best bite for boats leaving southside ports is happening around Monomoy. Andy Little spoke to a couple of anglers who had a three-hour topwater bite on fish up to 40 inches. They were feeding on squid, making “rubber,” as Andy likes to call soft plastics, and plugs very effective.
Jigging wire proved to be the ticket for one guy who told Rory Edwards he couldn’t keep the bass off his lures, while Rory himself found plenty of bluefish willing to attack tuna-sized plugs down around Squibnocket.
Rory was returning from a less-than-stellar offshore trip when they decided to bend a few rods any way they could with those blues. While the bite slowed at the Dump and Block Canyon, there are tuna east of Chatham, and some big fish were caught up around Peaked Hill Bar, with Rory suggesting that perhaps these were some of the larger bluefin that had been seen earlier south of the Vineyard. The word he got from Christian Giardini, who was busy helping customers at Falmouth Bait & Tackle, is that some boats went to the canyons midweek, but he hadn’t heard back from them.